A/k/a Tommy Chong (2006) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
10 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
What a flick!
pcarone25 December 2005
I caught a screening of "a/k/a Tommy Chong" at the Toronto Film Festival, and I have to say it's one of the best docs I've seen in a long time. The subject itself is fascinating, but what's even cooler is the access the filmmakers had to Chong himself. The film reveals the personality behind the persona--all while giving an in-depth look into the life of a comic legend. In addition,the film gives an extremely eye-opening look at drug policy in this country. I don't think that most people realize the roots of the most of the drug laws in the U.S. are based in racism, and this film does a great job of exposing that in a non-preachy (even hilarious!) manner. Anyone who has the chance should absolutely catch "a/k/a Tommy Chong."
14 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Excellent documentary!
waytek9814 January 2006
This movie blew me away at the U.S. debut (Palm Springs International Film Festival). It is a documentary about how Tommy was targeted in a DEA sting operation codenamed "Pipe Dreams". Tommy was arrested in 2003 along with several others in what appears to be a clear entrapment case. Tommy received the harshest sentence of all the defendants and had to serve 9 months prison time in a small California town named "Taft". Although the movie deals with an inherently controversial subject, it makes you wonder why they seem to have really socked it to Tommy as punishment for exercising his 1st amendment rights and making some great films that were loved my many and hated by a few. Hidden a little at first, but inter weaved in the fabric you will also find a story of true love and unconditional devotion... A family that loves each other and sticks together through thick and thin. Shelby and Tommy made sure to greet every moviegoer at the premiere and are two genuinely nice folks who may have achieved unwanted martyrdom but seem to deal with it in a very positive manner. Will see again and take my friends!
13 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Free Country?
Joel26 September 2006
Have you ever wondered what 12 million dollars can do? It turns out that 12 million dollars and hundreds of man hours by law enforcement can send a 62 year husband and father with no prior arrests to jail for sending some glass pipes to Pennsylvania. Does that strike you as a good use of taxpayer money??? This is a fascinating movie that all people need to see. Whatever side you are on, you need to see what our so called 'freedom loving' government will do to silence people who don't fit into their cookie cutter lifestyle. Watch this movie and take action. We are long over due for change and our justice system, as clearly shown here, is sadly anything but just.
16 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Things you won't see on news TV...
shreyasv20 December 2005
Tommy Chong, a figure who represents a movement to many, may just by his name bring many curious people to the theater. As a fairly conservative individual who more or less believes in the capacity of government, if the film had just been about the unfairness of anti-pot legislation/enforcement it probably wouldn't have done much for me.

Instead, the film shed alarming light on how justice is administered today. It disturbed me how various powerful people decided bringing down Tommy would add celebrity to their resume, and how much of a ruse they used to get him. I didn't necessarily question the legality of the actions (police can do things like send minors into bars to solicit alcohol or cigarettes) but rather the ideology and zealousness behind it. Is this consistent with how the majority of Americans feel we should act?

There is a great biographical aspect to the film that is smartly interwoven with present day events. It helped set context and added some background color to the names Cheech and Chong. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and this film was a cool glimpse into where our culture has been and how it has evolved.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Chong on the Comeback!!!
ad4realtor9 November 2005
It should have been called Farenheit 420, AkA is the best Documentary to ever come out!! Revealing who the person is behind the huge cloud of white smoke and bushy beard. AkA Tommy Chong should be seen by all, who appreciate CHONG and what his "Cheech & Chong" legacy stand for, if you have not seen it, your missing out on another piece of there vintage collection. AkA Tommy Chong will go down in history as the voice of all stoner's, that say screw the politics this should be legal! God grows this stuff, the fact that medical patients who are dying find some relief, and can still be charged as a criminals is stupid. Tommy's character is the Hemp Messiah, Pope of Pot, he stands for an entire culture, Hollywood and all those exec's under-estimate his popularity, I remember when he was the biggest star on That 70's Show, and when they had to keep his lines short in front of the studio audience, to sustain the chanting Chong-Heads in the audience. Look Out World here comes not just a movie, but a movement.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
informative and entertaining
systems-student16 January 2006
This is a hilarious and frightening look at the career and persecution of Tommy Chong. Loaded with hilarious clips of Tommy's classics like "Up In Smoke", the real subject of the movie is, of course, very serious.

The manner in which Chong was targeted and the resources spent on his arrest and prosecution were both somewhat shocking. Bill Maher said it best: "Don't you feel safer knowing the Tommy Chong is in prison?"

Whether the viewer is a relic of the 70's or just interested in constitutional rights, (these people actually do exist) this movie is definitely worth seeing.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
a must-see for Chong's fans, and maybe for others too...
MisterWhiplash14 June 2006
...and those others, in essence, might be most people in America. As the subject of a/k/a Tommy Chong states himself in the film- after being incarcerated for nine months for selling bongs to one state- his arrest and conviction was meant as a symbol for what could be done to practically anybody. When the current administration puts forth the notion of drug use being equal to terrorism all bets are off as to who's next. So the documentary here, maybe one of the better ones out this summer, works pretty much for two sides. Those interested in seeing a story of a case about the drug issue and civil rights, calling into question the constitution, and what's done by the attorney general's office is on one side. On the other side is the far and wide fan-base of Chong's from his stand-up, albums, and movies. The director Josh Gilbert does a very good job at balancing out the facts and interviews about the bong case and Chong's stay in prison with his personal and career histories. Some of this archival footage has not been seen in years, if at all, which brings out many good laughs alongside the classic clips interspersed in the film.

It's not really 'polished' style-wise, and it is mostly filmed with digital cameras at times capturing even the mundane moments of Chong days before going off to prison. Scenes like this usually wouldn't be in some documentaries, even as this is very independently made and wont be seen by as many people as other documentaries coming out this year. But in Chong's own testimonies, both of the facts and then how he puts it on in recent stand-up footage, and then through the legal and personal ramifications of the case, there's a lot to ponder and feel from the material. There's sadness, there's humor, there's outrage, and even moments of clarity and catharsis- Chong's now, apparently, been made a martyr through this happening, more popular and more counter-culture than ever in his late sixties. It's imperfect, but it has a crucial topic that is made all the more human by who is put at the center of "operation pipe dreams".
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Tommy Chong takes a big hit and discovers a new joint
johno-217 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at the 2006 Palm Springs International Film Festival and Tommy Chong and his wife Shelby and director Josh Gilbert were on hand to take Q&A after. This is the story of how a couple of Mary's, US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan and Assistant US Attorney Mary Mckeen Houghton brought down the comic king of Mary Jane, Tommy Chong. Chong was busted in Operation Pipedream for operating an internet business that was selling glass bongs. This was illegal to ship these products to the states of Pennsylvania and Iowa. Chong's company knew it was illegal to ship to Pennsylvania but did so anyway and got busted. What were they thinking? Where they high or something? uh, never mind. Chong claimed that it was unfortunate that the US Government couldn't distinguish between the character he plays and his real persona. But Chong however had his character printed on the bongs he sold and went around making public appearances at head shops which kind of showed that he himself was using his character to promote his bong sales. The Feds basically were saying that they were using his character against him because he was using his character for profit in glamorizing pot smoking. He waived indictment to a Grand Jury and plead guilty and served nine months at the medium security Taft prison in California. I would think that Chongs reemergence in the media as a recurring character burnout Leo on the popular TV comedy "That 70's Show" that appeals to a largely teenage audience helped seal his fate of them using his celebrity status against him. Having nearly a pound of pot in house when it was raided probably didn't help with his defense that he was not the character from the Cheech & Chong movies in real life. This movie is shot on video not film and is heavily slanted as anti John Ashcroft and Bush Administration. Footage of Bill Maher and Jay Leno talking about the unfair bust is included here but they do political and entertainment humor so that's a natural and Cheech Marin is shown talking about his former partner but why is George Thorogood included? This is no Ken Burns film as documentaries go but it does have a lot of humor and room for plenty of thought. I would give it a 6.5 of a possible 10 and recommend it.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Basic Snapshot of the Current Legal Perspective on Recreational Drugs
Sean Lamberger2 April 2012
A politically-conscious documentary that steps in to cover the months after world-famous doper Tommy Chong's arrest (for the illegal cross-state sale of glass pipes) but before his nine-month prison sentence. Along the way, we get a quick-and-dirty look at the polarizing comedian's life and times, the roots of his legendary partnership with Cheech Marin, and the state's over-ambitious case against him. Judging by the facts we're presented, there's little question Tommy was entrapped and railroaded by a media-hungry federal watchdog group, but to his credit Chong takes it all in stride, serves his time and emerges ready to take up the cause as a rejuvenated activist. Pro-legalisation viewers will be nodding their heads like a bobble-head from start to finish, while the peek into our government's priorities, practices and punishments might give fence-sitters a few new things to consider. Moral crusaders, on the other hand, will see an entirely different story. At just shy of 80 minutes, it only scratches the surface of an intrinsically deep, complicated political debate. Light viewing with a few mild laughs, it reports the facts and offers a take but isn't equipped to do any really heavy digging.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Feds vs Tommy Chong.
Michael O'Keefe25 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A mind-opening documentary showing tax payers money being spent frivolously. Tommy Chong, half of the famous and outrageously funny stoner team of Cheech and Chong, found himself in the slammer for his secondary career. Selling 'bongs'..colorful water pipes often used to consume marijuana. Chong became a primary target in a government sting called "Operation Pipe Dreams" under the guiding eyes of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan.

Of all the people indicted and prosecuted in the sting, with only one or two priors, Chong was the only one to receive a jail sentence...nine months in minimum security at Taft, California. Supposedly the harsh punishment was because Tommy making fun of the government's anti-drug efforts in the movie UP IN SMOKE. Chong now jokes about the only Weapons of Mass Destruction that the Bush Administration has every found is his bongs.

Lesson: it might not be good in the long run to joke about DEA, IRS, CIA or Homeland Security. Innocent or not...they can do anything they want to do.

Archive footage with pro and con comment include: Paul Moyer, Jay Leno, Bill Maher,George Thorogood, Ronald Reagan, Peter Coyote, Lou Adler, Cheech Marin, Alan M. Dershowitz and George W. Bush.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews